The Palestinian ambassador to Australia has written to the foreign affairs minister calling on the government to support an investigation into allegations of genocide in Gaza.
Izzat Abdulhadi wrote to Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Wednesday calling for her to publicly support South Africa’s application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking a preliminary ceasefire and investigation of potentially genocidal actions.
The case outlines alleged examples of Israel committing actions in Gaza that could breach the genocide convention.
After Australia publicly supported a similar application from Ukraine against Russia, it needed to do the same in this case, Mr Abdulhadi said.
“The application from South Africa is very strong – it has a lot of indicators and examples of the intent of Israel to commit genocide but of course, we will leave it to legal experts,” he told AAP.
Independent senator David Pocock backed calls for Australia to endorse the ICJ application, pointing to the “extraordinary scale” of human suffering and deaths of children, medical professionals and journalists.
He called for “a credible and robust examination of Israel’s conduct”.
“The case South Africa has brought … provides a mechanism for this thorough examination to occur in accordance with international law,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Australia would continue to make its position clear, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said as Senator Wong prepared to travel to Israel.
“We want to make sure that there is not a widening of the conflict, there have been too many innocent civilians in Israel and in Gaza affected by this conflict,” he told reporters in Victoria.
It would be inappropriate to comment on matters before the court, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
“The ICJ plays a critical role in upholding international law and the rules-based order, and Australia respects the independence of the ICJ and the judicial process,” a department spokesman said.
The opposition said the prime minister should rule out supporting South Africa’s case and continue to support Israel’s right to self-defence.
Australia has reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself but maintains the way it does so matters, pressing Israel to adhere to international law and protect civilian lives.
Ahead of public hearings beginning on Thursday at the UN’s highest court, Australian representative James Larsen reaffirmed support for humanitarian pauses to allow aid in Gaza.
Conflict in the Gaza Strip escalated after Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the Australian government, attacked Israel on October 7.
More than 1200 Israelis were killed and 240 were taken hostage, according to Tel Aviv officials.
Israel’s bombardment, blockade and ground invasion of Gaza has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, put half the territory’s 2.3 million residents at risk of starvation and left most without homes, according to the local health ministry and the UN.
Israel’s foreign ministry has responded by blaming Hamas for the suffering of Palestinians and claiming the group was using civilians as human shields.
Malaysia, Turkey, Jordan and Bolivia have issued public statements in support of South Africa’s action.